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A Writer's Guide to Twitter Part 1

A Writer's Guide to Twitter Part 1

Jun 21, 2021

Let's talk about online etiquette (you can find Part 2 by clicking here). Specifically Twitter etiquette. I know some of you are asking yourself "ahh Wesley you're supposed to be doing Wellness Checks about our health to feel better about ourselves not bringing up hives of scum and villainy."

First, off you should trust me a bit more than that. Of course, this is about your well-being that's our primary purpose here. But the fact is that we all spent a lot of time online. You're reading this online right now. You probably got here by following a link on Twitter. You are probably going to subtweet about this later. Online is part of our lives and a lot of stress and anxiety people feel directly stems from our use of online media and specifically social media. So let's talk about how we can make that experience not suck for you.

There's a lot of subculture stuff that's unique to Twitter which is what I am going to focus on today. I have all but stopped using Facebook because it got to be too depressing and toxic. On my Twitter account, I have been trying to make this a place of serenity and calm. So let's talk about how you can do the same.

The first rule of having a positive Twitter experience is this: If you aren't sure how it will be received it's probably better to just stop yourself and move on. Know your audience, know yourself, and think about how you'd feel if you had someone say what you are about to say to you. In short: You're not that funny, and you aren't the exception to the rule on any of this. Unless you are a lit agent wanting to discuss a book deal. In that case, DM me all you want.


DMs are great. Sometimes a conversation needs to be taken off the public forum, you wanna go more in-depth on something that you don't want to be limited by a 240 character limit. Sometimes you're needing to talk some stuff out with a friend in private. I get it, I've done it. I have some wonderful conversations with people daily. But when should you DM. First off: Do not DM someone immediately after following them or they follow back.

Let me repeat that for the kids in the back staring at their phone: DO NOT DM SOMEONE YOU JUST FOLLOWED OR WHO JUST FOLLOWED YOU. IT IS CREEPY.

My biggest piece of advice is this: don't DM unless they asked for a DM for something or you've been interacting with someone for a while and are comfortable you can think about DMing them. But just because you are comfortable with DMing someone doesn't mean they will be comfortable receiving it. So step 1: Check their Profile. I promise you if someone doesn't want a DM it will say so in their bio. You should read and respect that. You might think "but if they didn't want DMs they can turn them off in the settings." Yes, but they might want to DM some people but not all of Twitter. So check their Profile. If it says "No DM" don't DM. If it's important maybe tweet at them and ask. If you think there is a reason to DM someone starts it off polite and simple. Get to the point, keep it simple and let the relationship go from there. If it cools don't push it. Do not send genitalia unless you have both consented to it. Actually just don't send sexy pictures even if clothed without permission. Consent is key to all relationships. Remember that consent has to be received and can be withdrawn. If you are in doubt double-check. Even if you've had consent to send something before if there is any cause to make you think "huh this might upset this person" ask again. Trust me the ladies of Twitter would rather you reconfirm consent than have it assumed before seeing another picture of a dick. Also, ladies that goes for you too, sometimes people don't like nudity, or it's the wrong time in their headspace, be respectful.

TOPIC #2: Subtweets.

Definition of Subtweet: when you make a tweet or post to reference a person or group without actually naming the person or group. For example, someone told you off for being creepy on their post. You tweet out: "Some people need to just learn to take a joke and not be so serious about life" You didn't say who you were subtweeting about, but you're obviously referencing an incident.

As a hint in that situation above you'd be the ass so can we just not? If you're subtweeting about say current events and are like "Oh look another failure of blah blah blah government agency" fine, it's referencing something current, people can go look it up, you're not likely to lose any followers over it. If you are subtweeting about an individual person to be passive-aggressive then why? At that point you've had a disagreement, you're wanting a fight or sympathy but you don't want to call them out specifically to have plausibility deniability or something? It sounds like you've already decided you're not a fan of that person. That's okay you don't have to like everyone. They don't have to like you. But if you are subtweeting about someone who you know will see it you're inviting a fight. Now you've got a fight where everyone who knows is getting mad and in the end, you'll probably all just end up muting or blocking each other.

So what should you do instead? Well, this might be a good time to step away from Twitter for a while. Go outside, do some breathing and meditation exercises calm down from the fight. There are 2 things to know about social media fights: Nobody will ever change their mind fighting, nobody will care in like 3 days max. So step back and think about how important it is to you really. If you're still mad at the person that's okay, mute them, if it's bad enough, block them. Move on. Maybe you just need a break from that particular person for a while and then you can come back to them when things are a bit better for you and them and talk about something else. That's okay. We can all use breaks so take 'em.

Basically: stop being mean and looking for a fight. If you wanna fight with someone for the sake of fighting go troll Ben Shapiro's Twitter page for a while or a Fox News political article comment section. You can find assholes who are willing to fight with you all day who deserve it. Don't take it out on friends.

Topic #3: Calling out people

This is different from subtweeting because subtweeting is when you don't explicitly say who you are tweeting about. Calling people out can be useful, but I'm learning (I wish I had thought of this months ago but this is a process) that there are ways to call people out and ways to not. A lot of it is because of twitter's algorithms. For example the other day there was a post that got a lot of attention because it came from a fairly large account that said women can't be vulgar and there were a lot of sexist responses. Because I just said don't subtweet so if you really want to see it click here but I recommend you don't. You'll be happier in life and if you go there you'll just give him views. That's the trouble. If you like, quote tweet, retweet, anything you're giving them platform. Views, that's what it's about. Twitter is in the business of making sure people stay on their site and interact. So it's in their interest to show off posts and accounts that people are interacting with. So if you quote tweet that to call the guy out for being a patriarchal asshole you're just going to give him more views and interactions and Twitter will show most of his crap to us. Sure you can block but interacting with the tweet encourages more of the same tweets. Everyone is here for attention remember. So how do we combat this without subtweeting to show which assholes need to be cut out from our community for a better experience?

Screenshots. Take a screenshot of the tweet that annoys you with the user name and profile picture clearly visible. Do it on your phone, open snippet tool if you're on windows if you're on mac...do ...whatever it is mac does. Take a screenshot and then tweet that out with your displeasure. You're letting your followers know you think someone has posted something is wrong, they can see the evidence and it doesn't provide any additional assistance to that person's algorithm boost. So call out the sexist racist pedophiles. Make them scurry and run back into their dark places. Make sure the community knows about creeps and assholes, but take a screenshot, don't quote tweet.

Final note on this: if someone who you know to usually be a pretty rational person says something a bit off or weird maybe confirm they meant what they said first. If it's someone you've never interacted with before, they're being creepy and shouldn't tell stupid jokes as a first interaction. But don't just assume someone is malicious. they might be having a bad day or don't realize what they just said was wrong. It's okay to ask "Hey did you really mean that because that's not a nice outlook" or "Hey I don't really want that language on my post, could you be more careful in the future." or maybe this is a good time for a DM, IF they are a usual for your posts.

TOPIC #4: Fighting

Okay, you're fighting with your now-former friend, or jaded Twitter fling, or some creeper who commented on your picture saying he wants to see more of your body and you've never seen this weirdo before. You decided to let 'em have it, let them know how much you hate them. I get that, I've done it. But remember a few things. First if it's a creep you're giving them attention and that's what they really want anyway. They want you talking to them and making them feel important, you're just going to be mad and they get what they want. you block them, they just find a new victim. Block, call out if needed, move on.

If you're fighting with someone who is a mutual or used to be a mutual but you have a lot of shared mutual friends maybe consider what it does to your other friends. Especially if you start fighting in someone else's post where a lot of people are tagged. Everyone's going to feel awkward and gross and they might want to help but don't know-how. If you can't get along with someone that's okay, but before you yell, maybe just mute or block them. You're saving yourself a few extra steps and anger.

TOPIC #4: Interaction

That leads into my final point for this post because this is way longer than I expected (but I am @WesRants after all so here's the rant part of that). How to interact with people. Well, the best thing to do is like and comment on stuff you like or feel needs a comment. Retweet it if you think other people would like it. Quote Tweet if you want. People get happy when they see interaction. It's why we're addicted to social media, we want to be validated by our peers. We want people to interact with us and know that other people think like us and we're not alone in our thoughts. So do it. If you see one of your favorite people posting, interact with it it will make them feel better. If you see something you don't like, you don't have to interact with it, interaction on a bad post just encourages more bad posts. I want to build a more positive world, and the first place that can start is by choosing what we are going to interact with. Supply and demand is basic economic concept. If there's no demand for hate-filled tweets that make us angry, the supply will dry up.

"But Wesley the Algorithm doesn't show me my friends and just strangers and my really cool writing post got buried."

I know. So how do you fix that? Interact yourself. Go like other people's things, comment on their stuff giving your thoughts and insight. If you go in positive and helpful without being an asshole people are more LIKELY to come to see what you're about on your profile and like your stuff.

Now note how I capitalized likely in that last sentence. There's a reason for that. Do you know why? Because not everyone is going to come to interact with you more. Nobody is required to. Just because you are nice, positive, and interacting with other people doesn't mean they have to come to interact with you. That's true in all aspects of life. Being nice and being positive is something you should do because you want to do it for the benefit of feeling better for yourself. Not because you expect anyone to reward you for it. If you expect accolades and rewards for being nice then you're never going to be nice, it will always be a poisoned fruit. Okay, tangent over.

Now interacting isn't going to solve all your problems and you might still miss people's posts that you want to see. So Lists are your solution. First off you can make them public if you want or private so don't feel lie you have to broadcast to the world that you're making a list of exclusive people I don't say this to be snooty but some people have anxiety about social interactions and privacy is good for reducing anxiety for many people. But make a list of people you like to interact with regularly, people who post the content you want to see and support. You can pin that list so it shows up as its own tab in the app or in the list menu. You can go in check the tweets from those people and go back to the normal feed whenever you want. This gives you the chance to make sure you don't miss tweets from important people in your social media use and gives you a chance to help elevate their chances of seeing your stuff as you interact more with them.

Also last thing: if you notice you don't see someone's posts you can always just go to their profile and look to see what they're up to. That's good too gives them visibility.

Topic #5: Getting off social media

I lied this is the last thing. Take breaks from social media. It's not the end of the world if you miss something, like as not you don't even remember what you were talking about on Twitter last week. So take a break. I know that people say "oh my interactions drop well I am offline for long periods". Stop, you build up your interactions once, you can do it again. If your mental health needs a break from social media then your mental health is always more important. So don't feel bad about doing what's best for you. You'll survive.

In the end, this might not win you millions of followers and it won't solve everything. But it might help to make your experience a little less terrible.

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